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There is a really way of looking at things when it comes to being attacked, if someone is physically attacking you, you have the right to defend yourself.

If nobody is going asimple fter you, then you don’t. Also, there are levels to what kind of force you should use. For example, if someone steps on your foot in a crowded elevator, it would be hard to acquit you of self-defense if you took out a gun and shot that person.

About 20 miles northeast of Seattle lies the sleepy suburb of Monroe. As the plague of Seattle’s homeless problem spreads, new homeless camps have begun popping up in Monroe. One woman has been making complaints with the local police, and has begun taking pictures of the camps as proof.

This nearly landed her in the hospital, as one of the homeless guys took offense to her photography. Even more alarming was the initial response from the police.

Jovanna Edge, a Monroe business owner, said that problems with drugs, public camping, and other crimes have gotten out of hand in the city.

“They’re using [drugs] on the streets, they’re using in front of businesses … they’re stealing from people, they’re coming into the neighborhoods,” she said. “It’s really bad.”

When she noticed that there was a new camp set up under the awning of a private business, she decided to report the trespassing to police. Edge pulled into the parking lot and rolled down her car window to get a better photo.

At that moment, the man she was photographing came up and threw a reddish liquid from a bottle all over her. She did not know what the liquid was, but described it as “putrid-smelling.”

“It went all over the inside of my car, all over myself, all over the outside,” she said.

She immediately rolled up the window and called 911, but before she could finish dialing, he was back. This time, he was raising “a grapefruit-sized rock” above his head, as if to throw it at her. Edge said that the rock was big enough to be a deadly weapon.

She drove away and called police, this time to report the assault and attempted attack. What police told her astounded her.

“He told me that the vagrant had the right to defend himself [from my photography],” she said. “And he was defending himself with the rock and with this bottle of liquid.”

The chief of police got word of this, and was none too happy.

Monroe Police Chief Jeffrey Jolley called the suspect “one of that core group of 15 to 20 individuals that we’re dealing with on a repetitive, constant basis.”

The City of Monroe is working toward getting people housed and off drugs. A Homeless Policy Advisory Committee was added this year, and a city social worker program began three years ago.

“We’re trying to find every mechanism that we possibly can that’s available to law enforcement to deal with this issue,” he said.

“I am frustrated and when I first heard about this particular incident, it kind of shocked me, coming from out of state, to hear that it wasn’t a violation of law for somebody to throw a liquid on somebody’s car,” he said. “And that was very aggravating.”

Still, Jolley said that it could still be considered a crime, especially if it is found that liquid was thrown on the inside of the car. In a photo taken by Edge, drops of fluid can be seen on the passenger seat. Jolley sent the case back to the city prosecutor for review, with the recommendation that it be charged as malicious mischief.

While King County does not prosecute personal possession amounts of drugs, Snohomish County Prosecutor Adam Cornell is turning attention toward low-level, civility offenses, and has introduced a plan to once again start prosecuting less than 2 grams of drugs.

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